Brazil will sell off 269 blocks of oil this year to international operators, albeit none in potentially highly lucrative so-called pre-salt areas lying deep in the Atlantic, a government minister said Monday.
Brazil is setting great store by the eventual exploitation of tens of billions of barrels' worth of pre-salt stocks and whose selloff, originally slated for next year, is now expected to come in about 2017.
In the meantime, Brasilia hopes the current auction round, slated for October, will net at least two billion reais ($666 million.)
"I want to invite everyone to participate on the 13th (auction) round. It will be an opportunity for firms to increase their participation or to enter the Brazilian market," said Energy Minister Eduardo Braga, hoping to spark a bidding war.
Braga, who this week is participating in the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, Texas, indicated mature areas would be up for offer, along with some areas of high oil and gas potential.
By leaving aside pre-salt blocks any firms joining the auction are not required to associate themselves with troubled Brazilian state oil firm Petrobras, mired in a huge graft scandal implicating dozens of politicians and which has sole operator status for pre-salt areas.